Another cracking line up here, combining the best in death and black metal and it seems like all sorts of tribes are descending on Tufnell Park. Round the corner playing the smaller Boston Arms there’s a Voice of Oi mini festival taking place and what with the World Cup matches being shown in the pub there’s an interesting mix of people littering the street swigging away on beer and generally kicking back and having a good time.
Escaping into the main venue it’s time to catch the first of the four bands for those of us getting down for opening time and it is up to Funeral Throne to kick off the only real match that we are interested in tonight. It has been a while since I last caught the band who comprise of members from acts such as Haizum and Towers Of Flesh and they are getting set to unleash new album Threshold shortly so have plenty of new material to regale us with in their 30 minute slot. Immediately the sound is thick and dense as they snarl into things laying down a punishing slab of meaty furrowing, bathed in red light and playing hellishly. Having piled things up, a slower mesmerising pace uncoils and allows the melody to seep through and entrance. Subtler grooves hone in and merge with solid, churning segments and some grandiose, thorny guitar work giving a great all round atmosphere. The band seem to be a lot more confident than I remember and musically intricate with a lot going on in their songs. It’s more deathly black metal than the other way round and with drums battering mercilessly it’s pretty lethal with it. ‘Gateway To Lucifer’ is announced and it’s a portal that we are keen to fall through, orthodox and rigorous, bristling and dynamic craft built up to punishing neck cracking levels. With two vocalists keeping the sermon ever more versatile the hollering barks spills through the venue filling every nook and cranny and offering no room to escape. A good start to proceedings.
Another somewhat rare performance comes next from old favourite The One. Essentially the project ofI (Alexandos Antoniou) of Macabre Omen backed up with a drummer, one would think there might not be much to engage audience with visually on stage. Think again, as the senses are invaded at first with the heady smell of incense and then a deranged cloaked figure opening the gates to hell once more. The drummer similarly cowled thunders away precisely and the snarling guitar, vocal barks and punk as fuck black swagger romps away in a fashion that gets audience towards the front clamouring at the mental assault. You did kind of miss the bass but the sharpened sound and kick drums made up for it making it all the more razor sharp and vicious in the process. The One took us on a volatile descent into madness here and it’s not often that you catch a frontman that looks this close to the Grim Reaper, all that was missing was a scythe. There are too many projects like this that simply have not got the fortitude to step out the safety zone of their bedrooms / studios and take things to the stage (Arckanum I’m looking at you). The One prove that it can be done and be as seemingly as enjoyable for the artist as it is the audience. Atmosphere got devotional with chanting monks filling the air before the next buzz-saw attack cleaved in. Vocals hit a morbid and dead speaking pitch and the pace was unrelenting and spell-binding. I did not get any song titles but think they all came from the same source, a book called Necronomicon bound in human flesh. With clean vocals now adding another dimension I really did not want this performance to end, unfortunately it had to but not before taking us over to its very dark side.
This is the first live outing ever for Binah and as they get ready for it we become more intrigued as foliage is decked around the front of the stage and microphone stand. I wonder about smoking some of it as I wait but decide it’s not the best of ideas and breathe in more incense instead. It’s fair to say this lot are highly anticipated and are close to dream underground line-up containing members of Indesinence, Code and Grave Miasma in their live ranks. I wondered if the plant life was going to grow and take us over in a style like in the film The Ruins but thankfully before you could shout out “fetch me a shrubbery” (which I really wanted to) the death metal earth fathers got down to their pagan roots and came on as the clock struck 12 (sample wise not actual time). Front man Ilya is also wearing a full on cape and has plastered his face and hands with paint, somehow it was difficult to take him too seriously as he was wearing a big fuck off pair of shades but I guess that was the purpose. One thing not to be messed with are his beastly vocals as the band punish us with opening number ‘Morbid Obumbration.’ This honed in with such an obliterating ferocity as vocals spewed and gargled away it was enough to floor those of us at the front. Yet again it felt like the gates had been opened in all their foul and putrid chasm dropping glory. The riffs build into a really morbid symphony of occult death ritualism as we are delivered into ‘A New Rotten Dawn.’ It’s all very Lovecraftian and has us worshipping, bent down by its call as it gallops off in a thick and tarry fashion with a really meaty bass sound behind it. It had a bit of a rotten Swedeath feel to it as it chugged away and there’s no denying that it was dragging us solidly down the left hand path. Demonic roars and huge drum blasts rain down taking us into near blood frenzy. It was again an all too short set that had us clinging on for life as it battered away at us. I particularly liked the last number ‘Torpid Blight Of The Spirit’ from latest EP ‘A Triad Of Plagues’ as the occult tribalism of it even reminded me a bit of early Killing Joke. This lot are a force to be reckoned with, watch out for them, they bite!
From a first show to one of the last, certainly for London at any rate as Necros Christos are shortly calling it a day after a final album. Their last one ‘Doom Of The Occult’ had certainly made its mark so expectation was no doubt high to get a rare chance to see the German’s in action. More monk chants pervaded the space and the band blew into ‘Tormented Flesh On The Mount Of Crucifixion’, hitting with a powerful surge, thick and gruff sound, bass heavy and mixing a deathly doom sounding morass. By the time they move onto ‘Baal Of Ekron’ from that latest album they have the audience in their grip, barraging away with a big rumbling drum sound and churning riffs getting fists flung in the air in appreciation. Very much taking centre stage is growler / guitarist Mors Dalso Ra, the words “I am the ruler of man” seem spot on as he rumbles them out. The rest of the band pretty much stay in position, just digging in and furrowing out the gnarly riffs. The way they are so spread out looks particularly good on this large stage though and with blood red lights the band seemed like they were in some kind of widescreen panorama from the distance.
Gurgles and reverb announce moving into ‘Doom Of Kali Ma’ slowing things down as they partake into this epic triptych of a number and then battering away, with the drumming hitting like it was firing out chunks of flesh. Best to get a drink and duck. The show continues helped by a beer and it is a case of digging in and going with the flow whichever way it takes moving between slow oozing parts and massive bursts of speed. Underlying technical parts shine through, the gruff vocals gnaw away and after the band have been on for about half their set a big feel of déjà vu seems to set in and it all becomes a bit samey to me. They do a good job mixing old and new songs including brand new number Black Bone Crucifix which stomp down heavily but I at times found this a bit too formulaic especially with all the elusive mysticism about the group. I guess I was just expecting a bit more atmosphere (notably found more on album with between song sections). That said what I did get was a solid performance. By the time the band began to wind down with ‘Necromantique Nun’ it seemed a good point to head to the hills, for me Binah and The One really hit the mark tonight but it was all round another stellar show that promoters Old Empire, Infected Brain, Seven Churches had treated us to.
(Review and photos © Pete Woods)